Global research initiative formed to study and develop new treatments for glaucoma

David Hutton

Santen, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Ulster University researchers will focus on ways to preserve vision by slowing, reversing, or preventing the damage.

Santen today announced a research initiative with scientists from Massachusetts (Mass) Eye and Ear Ulster University to study and develop new treatments for glaucoma.

Vision occurs when the optic nerve transmits information between the eye's retina and the brain. The nerve can become damaged from conditions such as ocular hypertension and glaucoma, thereby leading to vision impairment or loss. This research initiative will focus on ways to preserve vision by slowing, reversing, or preventing this damage.

A leading cause of blindness, glaucoma affects more than three million Americans, and an estimated 79.6 million people worldwide. It affects people of all ages, from babies to senior citizens.1,2

According to Najam Sharif, PhD, DSc., vice president and head of global alliances and external research at Santen Inc., the company has been committed to the discovery and advancement of sight-saving therapeutics for more than 130 years.

“Through this collaborative research initiative with Mass Eye and Ear and Ulster University – distinguished institutions and academic leaders in ophthalmology research – we will employ our collective ophthalmic expertise to further the mission of preserving vision for those affected by glaucoma around the world," Sharif said in a statement.

Meredith S. Gregory-Ksander, PhD, an associate scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, and Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, pointed out that there currently no effective treatments for glaucoma that protect the optic nerve cells from degenerating, leading to irreversible vision loss for many glaucoma patients.

"Our research aims to determine if targeting a component of the immune system called the NLRP3 inflammasome, with a novel biologic we developed in collaboration with Victoria McGilligan, PhD, will stop the degeneration of optic nerve cells and help preserve vision in glaucoma patients,”

McGilligan, a lecturer in Personalized Medicine at the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine, Ulster University said she was pleased to have such strong industry interest, and funding support from Santen, which may speed up the development and progress of this therapeutic antibody, called InflaMab.

“I am also delighted to be working on this project with Mass Eye and Ear as we are long standing collaborators and their research compliments ours perfectly,” she said in a statement. “They have developed novel glaucoma models which we have then used to successfully test the innovative therapeutic we developed, which is used to penetrate the eye cells to reduce inflammation. Our ultimate collective goal is to offer hope to those at most risk of vision loss through the adoption of this treatment for glaucoma patients in clinics around the world."